by Teresa Bowman
February 7, 2009
I left for Galveston on Thursday morning and stayed in Houston at the Embassy Suites on Sage Rd near the Galleria Mall. The hotel was very nice and the swans in the atrium lobby were a nice touch. I began my drive to Galveston on Friday with little to no traffic. I got into Galveston pretty early but was able to check into my room at the Hampton Inn and Suites on Central City Blvd near the Sea Wall. My room overlooked the ocean and everyone was very friendly and helpful. I was able to leave my car at the hotel free of charge during the cruise. I took a taxi which cost about $20 with tip and the driver was very informative and answered dozens of questions that I had about Galveston.
Check in for the cruise was fast and efficient. My only complaint at this point was when I got up to the rep for check in, she asked for the card that I booked the cruise with. I told her that I did not want to use the card, and she responded that it was for ID only, and would not be charged. So I gave her my card, which she proceeded to swipe. Again I commented that I did not want the card used, and she told me that it would not be. We were allowed to board around 12:30 or so. The cabins were not ready so I took my carry on bags and went to the Lido deck and ate lunch. There were very few other passengers at this point so the food was plentiful and pretty good. Just your basic burgers and hotdogs. Finally at 1:30 my cabin was ready and I got to go see it for the first time. I had booked a 1A and had no idea of what it would be like. I have to say I really liked it. I was on the Empress Deck and aft. My bags came pretty quickly, actually before we even left port. My cabin was quite warm and I was trying to adjust the A/C but was not able to get the dial to move. I tried finding my cabin steward but to no avail. I was able to get the man who delivered my bags to fix it for me. After that I pretty much just wandered the ship, camera in hand. I took several photos and videos of the ship and my cabin. As I was traveling by myself I was able to go and see what I wanted to without hindering others.
I went to the purser's desk and established a cash account and let them know again that I did not want my debit card used.
At around 4 or 4:30 we were told to get ready for our muster drill. I went back to my cabin, got my life jacket, checked my muster station location -- the Star Light Lounge -- and headed there. While on the deck near the life boats I noticed that we had set sail. I was very excited at this point -- like a kid in a candy store. I had chosen the late seating, 8:15pm, the Wind Song Dining room. So after the drill, I just wandered the ship, getting to know my home away from home for the next few days. I got dressed for dinner and went to the dining room to see who my table mates would be. I was the first one there, and felt a little out of place. Joseph, my waiter, greeted me by name and I was very surprised. Turns out that he had already been notified of my food allergy and wanted me to know that he would be taking care of me. Gradually others began to join me. Pat, from Texas who would turn out to be who I would hang out with for most of my cruise. Tad, Candy and Jerry also from Texas, Renee from Texas (did not meet until later), Gail from Kansas and Sandy from Oklahoma. We named ourselves the divorced Medical/Educational table. All of us except Pat and Sandy were recently divorced and we were all in the Medical or teaching field in some way. I work for a health insurance company, there were 2 nurses, one medical secretary, one payroll clerk in a hospital and ohh yea, 2 were teachers. We were all around the same age, mostly in our early to mid 40's to late 50's (I was the youngest at 43). Three or four of us had grandchildren and we all had kids. So the Matri D', Hatem, did a great job of seating us. I don't recall what I had for dinner each night but I want to say it was very good and very well presented.
Aniko who is Hatem's assistant came each night to take my order for the next night's dinner, to make sure it was prepared without any dairy items. I tried to pick foods that would be easy to fix or foods that would not cause too much trouble. The chef made me a special dinner of Shrimp Vindaloo one night. I love North Indian food and he was nice enough to do that for me. Totally not on the menu! I ordered shrimp cocktail and salad for my appetizers every night.
Our first sea day, I spent going to different activities. I was not bored one bit and had loads of fun taking photos of the ship and learning different stuff. I have met so many different people! The ship hit pretty bad currents and it rocked and dipped. Lots of folks were sick. I thought it was fun! I was rocked to sleep every night in my bed! We were late getting into Cozumel by two hours, but we made up the difference by leaving later.
Digital Scavenger Hunt
Welcome Back Party
Captain's Reception and Gala Dinner
I then went to the purser's desk to talk to them about my accounts and about why they had charged the card when I asked them not to. It did take talking to 3 or 4 different people at different times to make them understand what I was talking about. They were holding $50 on my debit plus $50 from my cash for my gratuities. I was fine with the cash being held -- that was why I had it in the first place -- but the fact that they charged the debit card was what I wanted fixed. They finally understood and agreed to release the debit, but it was not done until we docked on Thursday the 12th.
The one thing that I will say is that I never saw my cabin steward. My cabin was cleaned and I did get the turn down service, but I had tried paging him three times and tried to find him a few times, but never was able to. I did tell the purser's desk but they said that perhaps he just was not working on those times I had tried to find him.
All in all it was a great trip. I would do it again in a heartbeat.